Year In Review: Not-So-Special Teams

Every day here at GMENHQ, we’re going to feature a post that breaks down a different facet of the Giants 2010 season. The object is to compile an in-depth year in review series over the coming days. A new segment will be posted every day, so check back for new installments frequently.

Anyway, onto the Not-So-Special Teams breakdown from the Giants 2010 season.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Giants would have been a top overall contender this year if it hadn’t been for the cumulative -20.2 rating they got for their efforts in all things Special Teams related.  That’s the worst Special Teams in the entire NFL folks.  Care to find out the details?

RETURNS

Not surprisingly, the Giants finished at the bottom of the NFL in several important categories here…  including kick return yards (1082 yds, 32nd), kick return avg (19, 31st), and punt return avg (6.1, 32nd) — considering the Giants had the 4th most forced punts in the league the Giants offense was not given as good field position as they could’ve.  Also, how sad is it that the great work consistently done by the defense wasn’t capitalized on CONSISTENTLY by poor Special Teams execution.

Obviously, field position is a huge factor that did not benefit the Giants offense as well as it should have.  KR/PR Darius Reynaud was completely unproductive and is the main reason for these stats, he was simply awful. With the hopeful return of Domenik Hixon, the Giants should improve these numbers across the board assuming he’s once again relegated to his role as token return man and 4th string WR.  Keep him healthy at all costs, because the Giants cannot afford another lack luster year in their return game.

PUNTING

Of his 73 punts, Matt Dodge averaged 44.1 yards per punt, 10th in the NFL.  He landed only 20 of those inside the 20 however, g0od enough for 26th in the league.  The Raiders Pro Bowl Punter Shane Lechler may become available in the coming days, the Giants should think about adding him to the training camp roster to provide some competition for Dodge, the would-be 2nd year rookie.

The biggest problem though as everyone knows (from the Eagles game especially) was the punt coverage team – 14.9 yards per return on average allowed by the Giants. Second worst in the NFL only to the Chargers.  Allowing 1 TD all season is forgivable, and typical, but the manner in which that 1 TD occurred is both unforgettable and unforgivable. Let the evaluation process begin indeed…

KICKING

Lawrence Tynes had a much better year overall.  He nailed 100% of his PATs, 47 for 47 which is 4th most in the NFL.  He also went 19 for 23 in FG tries for 82.6%…  Tynes also hit a long FG of 53 yards, both good enough to land him in the top half of the league.  Tynes reformed his motion, looked a lot smoother this year and is taking a more straight on approach to the ball.  He seems to have ironed out a lot of his issues and he was much more consistent this year.  Good for him.

The Giants had the 3rd fewest FG attempts though with 23, no doubt due to the offense having a better year in the red zone and Eli Manning converting on 31 TD passes and the running game amassing 17 TDs between the two backs.  However, late in games the Giants would consistently fail to sustain any drives into their opponents territory.  The down field goal numbers also point to a failure on offense as much as it points to converting TDs.  Both

And it should also be mentioned that Tynes only had 7 touchbacks and 77 returns, 8th and 3rd worst respectively.  Considering Tynes only kicked the ball 61.9 yards on average, 2nd worst, t’s a miracle that the Giants only allowed 19.7 yards on kick returns on average and allowed 0 TDs on kick returns.

CONCLUSION

Bill Belichick always said that if you win 2 out of 3 facets of your football game —  Offense, Defense, Special Teams — you typically win. If the Giants are going to help themselves win more games in 2011, I can’t think of a better place to start than ramping up their Special Teams play.

1) Bring in Shane Lechler if he’s available.  If not, another veteran punter to provide some competition with Matt Dodge is needed.

2) Punt returns — a new strategy in limiting return yards is needed if we don’t have a punter who can consistently bury the ball inside the 20′s.

3) Get Domenik Hixon back in the return game and keep him healthy at all costs!


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